McCain Embraces Giuliani's 'Tough on Crime' Stance

John McCain's approach to crime:

Asked what he would do about crime, Mr. McCain pointed to Rudolph W. Giuliani’s success lowering crime in New York City.

You'll recall that the Giuliani approach sacrificed civil liberties for "safe streets" and encouraged the NYPD to engage in misconduct and brutality. New York City residents who were homeless, particularly those who tried to make a living by washing windshields with squeegees, were endlessly harassed so that more affluent residents could have a better "quality of life" (i.e., a life that didn't expose them to the less fortunate). Giuliani is not a model we should want anyone to emulate. [more ...]

It isn't surprising that Giuliani was a fan of harsh law enforcement tactics. Remember that Giuliani refused to condemn waterboarding or, for that matter, any other specific form of torture when questioned during the primary debates.

When questioned about rampant police misconduct during the Giuliani administration, McCain did say he would "commit to using the Justice Department to investigate accusations of such misconduct." But that empty promise echoes the sudden enlightenment that Giuliani claimed after the police torture of Abner Louima became headline news. Giuliani apointed a "task force to review police-community issues" and "immediately criticized the task force's majority report."

The mayor complained that the task force had ignored the drop in crime in the city.

In Giuliani's world, the ends justified the means. This is McCain's crime-fighting hero?

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    Ugh (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by Steve M on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 12:54:22 PM EST
    I hate "tough on crime" sloganeering.  Always leads to bad policy, and the worst part is, it invariably ends up as the winning message.  I have no idea how we are going to change that paradigm.

    Really bad policy (none / 0) (#13)
    by sj on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 01:53:55 PM EST
    Like mandatory sentencing.  One of the positions I watch for is prison reform,  right down to the price of phone calls.

    I am also adamantly opposed to depriving felons (who have served their "debt to society") of the right to vote.  I'd maybe be okay with it if we also absolved them of paying taxes, but that will never happen (unless it's a robber baron sort of felon).

    How's that for two political winners?  Not only will I never see my issues acted upon, I almost never even see them mentioned.


    I read "tough on crime" (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by nellre on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 12:57:00 PM EST
    When I hear "tough on crime" I think vindictive, cruel, reactive... all emotion, no brain.

    We need to be proactive and address the causes of crime. Too often the perp is also a victim.

    Giuliani's such a has-been (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by Ben Masel on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 06:50:21 PM EST
    they were liquidatinging Rudy masks for a buck on Canal Street in March.

    And Still No Takers (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by squeaky on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 07:02:54 PM EST
    I bought one. (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by Ben Masel on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 07:13:10 PM EST
    Got my grandaughter trained to "Bring me the head ... of Rudy Giuliani."

    lol (none / 0) (#44)
    by squeaky on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 07:36:18 PM EST
    That is good...

    Giuliani had to write me a $68,000 check (5.00 / 2) (#34)
    by Ben Masel on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 06:55:12 PM EST
    as US Attorney, after a ruling that his office had proceeded in  Bad Faith in a Civil Forfeiture.

    I'd been grabbed with the money for a fullpage NYT ad calling for the impeachment of Reagan, AG Meese, and VP Bush for their roles in Ollie North's Contra/cocaine operation. After the search was deemed illegal, the US Attorneys Office asserted to have "independently derived evidence" that the money was proceeds of, or intended for, a drug transaction. A year later, when the time came to present this "evidence," they had bubkas.

    The $68k covered the original cash, interest, and Attorneys' fees, available only with a judicial finding of "Bad Faith." So far as I'm aware, this was the first award of fees in a Federal forfieture.

    United States v. $37,590, 736 F.Supp. 1272 (S.D.N.Y. 1990)

    "Bad faith" sums up Giuliani (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by LarryInNYC on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 07:46:27 PM EST
    on almost every level.

    Oh man (none / 0) (#47)
    by Steve M on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 08:27:05 PM EST
    Great case!  Pity you didn't draw Judge Mukasey, though.

    Guiliani's version of "tough on crime" (5.00 / 1) (#51)
    by kdog on Sun Aug 03, 2008 at 09:18:29 AM EST
    brings to mind myself and most every friend I've got having an arrest record and receipts for fines paid.

    And we're all live and let live, couldn't hurt a fly types...Guiliani's definition of "criminal" I guess.

    Everyone is talking about crime
    Tell me who are the criminals

    - Peter Tosh

    Who are the criminals?  If you ask me, Guiliani and McCain would be on my ten most wanted list...for crimes against liberty.

    Needlessly tendentious (none / 0) (#1)
    by rilkefan on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 12:30:37 PM EST
    "(i.e., a life that didn't expose them to the less fortunate)"

    The NYT story is interesting... (none / 0) (#2)
    by EL seattle on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 12:31:47 PM EST
    Obama is addressing the Urban League today?  I hope they ask him the same questions they asked McCain.  This might be good way to resume a discussion of issues like Education, the future of Affirmative Action, and approaches to fighting Crime in America, without all the hyper-emotion of the past day or two.

    Cut the squeegee men no slack (none / 0) (#3)
    by RonK Seattle on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 12:38:37 PM EST
    It's penny-ante extortion, not a needed service performed for tips.

    Plenty of legitimate ways to criticize Giuliani's (claimed) anti-crime cred, but when you start with the squeegee men you are recapitulating the liberal errors that created Rudy's window of opportunity.

    Caring about people ... (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by TChris on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 12:44:33 PM EST
    who are struggling to survive is not a "liberal error."

    No Sh*t (none / 0) (#6)
    by squeaky on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 12:45:33 PM EST
    Yeah, but (none / 0) (#8)
    by Coral on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 12:55:58 PM EST
    Despite my rational mind being in agreement, my emotions are definitely not in support of the squeegee men. Too many times a perfectly clean windshield of mine got smeared by a dirty rag.

    Incredibly annoying.

    I think it's important to understand the emotional power -- to ordinary people -- of some of these moves of McCain in order to devise the most effective political narrative on the side of civil liberties.


    Arresting .. (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by TChris on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 01:03:36 PM EST
    and harassing people is not the appropriate response to annoying behavior, even if your windshield was dirtied.  Giving them food and shelter, mental health care, and job training is a more humane response.  And if none of that works, activate your windshield washers and wipers.  It just isn't worth the time of law enforcement to deal with squeegee guys.

    Making Squeegee Man the poster child ... (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by RonK Seattle on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 05:07:06 PM EST
    ... is not an appropriate response to homelessness or other forms of want and disadvantage.

    It's an injustice to the authentic homeless, it's counterproductive PR for them, and it's counterproductive politics for those who want to help them directly or indirectly.

    Squeegee men are to homelessness as Critical Mass is to urban bicycling.


    "Annoy" and "harass". . . (2.00 / 0) (#12)
    by LarryInNYC on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 01:30:40 PM EST
    are synonyms.

    Beats me why you think harassment is okay in one direction but not the other.  You do, indeed, seem to be perpetuating a liberal piety.

    You're not doing anyone a favor by protecting their "right" to earn a "living" by extorting quarters from a captive audience.  Your prescriptions for helping people are good ones but no city is going to have the ability to pursue those kinds of social programs if their tax based is eroded by a sense of lawlessness in the streets.

    Giuliani is an ass and his preening persona did no good for the city.  But the idea of not allowing the city's quality of life to erode, as you advocate, is a good one for everyone and can be applied in a more responsible, less macho fashion.


    I have ... (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by TChris on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 02:03:00 PM EST
    never felt extorted by a squeegee guy.  You don't want to tip, shake your head and roll up the window.

    The difference is that you have no constitutional right to go through your life without being annoyed by a private citizen.  We all have the constitutional right to engage in lawful behavior without police interference.  Asking for money is lawful behavior.  That isn't a "liberal piety"; it's the law.  And it's just bad policy to focus scarce law enforcement resources on minor annoyances.

    "I have never felt" (2.00 / 0) (#15)
    by rilkefan on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 02:25:21 PM EST
    It's not all about you.

    "you have no constitutional right to go through your life without being annoyed by a private citizen."

    Here you're putting up a good-way-to-lose-elections absolutist position which meshes poorly with your moralistic stance against lawful police activity you dislike.  If the guy next door plays Abba or Queen or whatever top-volume in the middle of the night, I can sensibly ask the local law enforcement to do something about it - and I think it should be legal to play awful music.

    "And it's just bad policy to focus scarce law enforcement resources on minor annoyances."

    Here you're begging the question.  You ought to start from a cost/benefit analysis in the first place.


    Don't be dissing Queen, now :) (none / 0) (#17)
    by sj on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 02:41:49 PM EST
    Then I'll really have to get upset.

    I felt extorted by the guy. . . (2.00 / 0) (#16)
    by LarryInNYC on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 02:35:52 PM EST
    who wouldn't leave me alone last week as I was trying to get my kids and their bags out of the car while parked in front of my house.  Anyone can ask me for money, and they often get it.  But no means no.

    I don't know how many encounters you've had with squeegee men and you're welcome to your feelings about them.  But many, many, many people feel differently.  It is not the same as begging -- there is an implicit threat involved.

    As to what rights I have, I believe that I (and other citizens) have the right to go about our business without being detained by someone standing in front of my car until I pay up twenty-five cents to be allowed to move.  Or someone who won't let me get my sleeping children into my own house.

    Begging is fine (not really, but it's clearly permissible), but when it becomes a grown up version of Trick or Treat -- where the trick is the threat of damage, even if minor and short term, to my car, or a refusal to release me to go about my business, a line has been crossed.


    PS. (2.00 / 0) (#18)
    by LarryInNYC on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 02:54:30 PM EST
    The difference is that you have no constitutional right to go through your life without being annoyed by a private citizen. . . That isn't a "liberal piety"; it's the law.

    I'm fairly certain the issue of squeegee person suppression was tried in court and is, in fact, legal.

    And it's just bad policy to focus scarce law enforcement resources on minor annoyances.

    That's your view, of course, but it runs completely contrary to what is becoming (through empirical evidence) to be considered actual effective policy.  That is that by focusing law enforcement resources on minor "annoyances" (by which I think you mean minor crimes) that you do, in fact, have a substantial net positive effect on crime and quality of life as a whole.

    You can't simply slip that assertion into a comment and expect it to go unchallenged.


    Out Of Sight (5.00 / 0) (#19)
    by squeaky on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 02:58:16 PM EST
    Out of mind. Kind of like social prozak?



    Actually (5.00 / 2) (#20)
    by TChris on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 03:03:15 PM EST
    that assertion is the entire point of the post.  Giuliani's "law and order" approach fostered a series of civil liberties violations, large and small.  The right champions security and "tough on crime" stances without regard to the impact those policies have on civil rights.  Whether your "quality of life" is affected depends upon whether you're the person whose civil rights are being violated.  I should also point out that the Giuliani approach to panhandling has not been without cost to NYC taxpayers.

    A lot of tautologies (none / 0) (#22)
    by rilkefan on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 03:33:07 PM EST
    ideologically framed in the post.  You're trying to have it both ways - and I say that as someone who thinks what Giuliani did was bad.  Bad because it was based on a theory (which you don't refer to) I disagree with and because it was implemented badly.  You don't have to pretend panhandling or window-defacing or whatever aren't harms to the community to make those points.

    While Giuliani. . . (none / 0) (#24)
    by LarryInNYC on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 04:15:43 PM EST
    did foster civil rights violations, that was in his implementation of an otherwise sound theory -- that small crimes matter as well as large crimes.  That theory does not necessarily require civil rights to be violated, unless you define the right to engage in minor criminal activity a civil right.  It isn't.

    Re squeegee persons: (none / 0) (#35)
    by oculus on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 06:58:53 PM EST
    not welcomed by single women alone in the car, no matter how dirty the windshield may be.

    On the other hand, driving back from Baja to TJ with my brothers in the car, I shook my head no, to no avail, and then realized my windshield was really dirty.  Context is all I guess.


    Agreed (none / 0) (#11)
    by Coral on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 01:12:48 PM EST
    But I still can understand the political appeal of the Giuliani approach within the context of a presidential campaign.

    FIRST the came for the squeegie guys (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by Ben Masel on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 06:45:13 PM EST
    but my windshield was clean.

    Then they came for tyhe loose joint deaalers, but my connection worked out of his apartment.


    Yup (none / 0) (#31)
    by squeaky on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 06:48:05 PM EST
    Sounds about right...

    Yes, because ticketing a guy. . . (none / 0) (#43)
    by LarryInNYC on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 07:27:10 PM EST
    for extorting money in the middle of the street is the moral equivalent of gassing six million Jews!

    You've got me on the guys selling loose joints since that too is currently a crime and the sort of the thing you would expect a quality of life campaign to crack down on.  Perhaps you can take some solace in the fact that in Bloomberg's New York someone selling loose joints will get considerably milder treatment than someone pushing tobacco.


    Even considering the source (none / 0) (#46)
    by Steve M on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 08:18:54 PM EST
    I think it was at least a little tongue in cheek!

    A more careful analysis (none / 0) (#50)
    by Ben Masel on Sun Aug 03, 2008 at 07:48:12 AM EST
    wiould analogise squeegee guys with Communists. First...

    Agreed (none / 0) (#4)
    by andgarden on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 12:43:33 PM EST
    Can't we Counter (none / 0) (#21)
    by BackFromOhio on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 03:04:16 PM EST
    with Bloomberg's consistent record of crime reduction -- since 2002 crime, including murders, down every year (through 2007). Don't need to engage in Rudy's fear-mongering, or breast-beating and other "macho" stuff to get crime down.

    Can't we point to a general reduction (none / 0) (#23)
    by rilkefan on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 03:36:20 PM EST
    in crime rates across the country instead of praising Rs who happened to be in the right place at the right time?

    Praise to demographics. Less young males (none / 0) (#36)
    by oculus on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 06:59:54 PM EST
    under 35=less crime.  

    I would say... (none / 0) (#28)
    by Jerrymcl89 on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 06:19:45 PM EST
    ... that, in general, Giuliani's methods were effective. But I credit Bloomberg much more for sustaining them without the racially polarizing edge and tolerance for excessive force that characterized the Rudy era. Rudy seemed to assume that controlling crime and showing respect for black people was an either/or choice, and Bloomberg has shown that it doesn't have to be.

    Correlation is not causation (none / 0) (#29)
    by rilkefan on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 06:44:30 PM EST
    What reason is there to believe Giuliani's methods were better than, or even as good as, the status quo of the time?

    Correlation is also not proof of non-causation (none / 0) (#42)
    by Jerrymcl89 on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 07:23:12 PM EST
    New York's reduction in crime was part of a national trend. But there were certainly cities that saw much lesser reductions in the same period. I lack the background to prove that Giuliani's methods were helpful (and you might not believe me even if I had it), but having seen the city firthand throughout the period, I do think they were mostly effective, though not without costs.

    Skepticism is the default stance (none / 0) (#48)
    by rilkefan on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 09:25:51 PM EST
    - otherwise you're stuck believing superstitions and contradictions.

    Far more than sustaining (none / 0) (#52)
    by BackFromOhio on Sun Aug 03, 2008 at 10:02:22 AM EST
    Under Bloomberg, crime down 20% in 2002 I believe and then down each year thereafter.  This record represents far more than "sustaining" what G achieved; and Bloomberg managed to do this without riling up one sector of the population against another and without proclaiming the need to trample on Constitutional rights.

    Under Joe Torre crime came down n/t (none / 0) (#53)
    by rilkefan on Sun Aug 03, 2008 at 10:23:07 AM EST
    Ghouliani archtypical republican..he's: (none / 0) (#26)
    by pluege on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 05:09:33 PM EST
    a megalomaniac
    thoroughly self-absorbed

    Ghouliani is the last person on Earth anyone should be modeling themselves after.

    Jeez Louis. (none / 0) (#33)
    by LarryInNYC on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 06:50:33 PM EST
    Good to know that on our side we don't resort to mindless name calling.

    Giuliani is an ass, but he was probably just as much an ass before he switched his voter registration from Democrat to Republican.  And his negative traits he shares one-for-one with many Democrats, like Eliot Spitzer, who was just as egomanical a character not withstanding that, on the whole, his policies were better.


    Given New York City's exposure (none / 0) (#37)
    by oculus on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 07:01:34 PM EST
    to 42 U.S.C. section 1983 civil lawsuits stemming from alleged polic brutaliy/excessive force, I find it hard to believe any mayor, including Guiliani "encouraged" law enforcement going off the reservation.  Pretty expensive.

    He had no problem with taxpayers paying (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by Ben Masel on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 07:09:25 PM EST
    for his misdeeds.

    Case in point, the continual arrests, on his orders, of street artists AFTER the courts had found they had 1st Amendment rights to sell their work on the sidewalks.


    Well, he certainly encouraged. . . (none / 0) (#41)
    by LarryInNYC on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 07:23:08 PM EST
    "aggressive" tactics.  And he never met a violation -- some extraordinarily egregious -- in which he didn't wholeheartedly support the actions of the police.

    Did he personally instruct police to harass, arrest, and shoot innocent people?  No.  But he didn't seem to dissuade them either.

    The post-Giuliani record hasn't been spotless but at least now there's no knee-jerk reaction of support for violations in advance of an investigation.  Giuliani lucked out in being in office when Bratton instituted his reforms -- he even deserves credit for hiring Bratton (but not for driving him out after three years) -- but Bloomberg and Kelly have shown that, unlike TChris's claims in this post, broken windows is not the same as civil rights abuse.


    We should give them? (none / 0) (#27)
    by lousy1 on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 06:08:06 PM EST
    If we are discussing that able body citizens that have the physical and mental capacity to extort innocent motorists

    I hope you mean that we should insure that they  
    are directed to the slightly more difficult but ultimatly morw rewarding path of honest labor.

    profit motive (1.00 / 0) (#49)
    by diogenes on Sat Aug 02, 2008 at 11:43:56 PM EST
    Surveys of real panhandlers/beggars show that they do fairly well financially, better then they would at McDonalds.  And it's off the books and untraceable, so you can get welfare/section eight housing/medicaid while doing it.

    Too Many Broken Windows or Too Few Immigrants? (none / 0) (#54)
    by 1980Ford on Sun Aug 03, 2008 at 07:54:27 PM EST
    Too Many Broken Windows or Too Few Immigrants?

    As homicides soar in a number of East (and West) Coast cities, criminologists and police experts are divided on how to explain this dramatic turn around to what had been a nearly universal decade of crime decline between 1994 and 2004. As profiled in a recent Yahoo story, one emerging explanation focuses on the failure of these cities to adopt the right kinds of policing strategies, the other emphasizes the role of immigrants in defusing violence within low income parts of the city.